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Thailand’s no mask mandate comes with conditions, warns ministry

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Though it is no longer necessary to wear a mask in Thailand, the new rule comes with some conditions, Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha said on Friday.

“People are still required to wear a mask in crowded places, public gatherings where social distancing cannot be maintained or in places with poor ventilation,” he said.

“Those in the high-risk group, unvaccinated persons and patients must also wear a facemask when close to others.”

He added that these steps need to be taken to prevent a new wave of infections now that Thailand has eased most restrictions.

“We have found that some areas have reported slightly higher cases, but most patients have only mild or no symptoms,” he said. “However, they are still at risk of long-Covid, which is found in patients who have recovered from the virus.

“Hence, the best way to stay safe is to protect yourself from infection,” he added.

The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, has tasked all provincial governors to make locals aware of the conditions behind the lifting of the mask mandate to prevent a misunderstanding that people can now remove their mask anywhere.

“People need to be aware that the pandemic has not ended, and that facemasks still provide protection,” Interior Ministry’s permanent-secretary Suttipong Juljarern said on Friday.

“Only fully vaccinated persons in non-high-risk groups can go mask-free in public places, though facemasks will still be required in certain places like air-conditioned buildings, entertainment venues, hospitals, public gatherings and in areas with poor ventilation.”

Suttipong added that so far, 82 per cent of the Thai population has received the first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine, 77 per cent their second jab and 43 per cent their booster shots.

“The Interior and Public Health Ministries aim to have at least 60 per cent of the population given booster shots to boost overall immunity against the virus before it transitions into an endemic,” he said.

“People are still advised to take precautions by wearing their facemask where necessary, washing their hands regularly and continue maintaining social distancing to limit infections.”

On Saturday, Thailand recorded 2,236 new Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths, while 1,892 patients had recovered and were discharged from hospitals. Cumulative cases in the country since January 1, 2022, add up to 2,288,342.

Published : June 25, 2022

By : THE NATION